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Digital ID

Digital ID. Death of the CV?

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Recruiters and employers have been talking about the death of the CV for decades, but until now, there’s never been a suitable replacement. Sure, LinkedIn profiles provide some of the information needed to make informed hiring decisions about a candidate, and now with the advancement of Talent Intelligence hiring the hiring market, is the Digital ID, finally the death of the CV? 

At the start of the pandemic, major adjustments were made to Right to Work (RTW) checks and a shift towards online identification verification became the norm. Fast forward three years, numerous meetings of parliament and toing and froing between axing digital RTW checks and keeping them, in October 2022, the government decided that since Digital ID (DI) verification met all the legal requirements needed to roll it out, it was here to stay. With one caveat: employers had to choose one or the other form of ID checking potential employees. Digital Identity in the employment sector has become the star use case for its implementation.

Reed Screening Group Risk Director, Keith Rosser is on a mission to create a safer world of work; safer for workers, for work seekers and employers and has been the main driver and fierce evangelist for the approval and adoption of the DI. “UK hiring can be a shining example to the world” Keith told a Commons Committee a few weeks ago on DI. He said that DI and the provision for greater government data sharing through the Data Information Bill can help make “UK hiring the fastest globally”. But is the roll out of the Digital ID the death of the CV? This question has been debated for years and while some will say it’s ti me to axe the CV, there are others who are still very much in favour of keeping it.

Recruitment technology can and does limit our opportunities to reach everyone Jo Major, Founder at Diversity in Recruitment

What information will be kept on the digital ID

As it is today, DI allows for RTW checks and offers the capability to prove that a person is who they say they are. But in terms of what could be added to it will depend on whether the Data Protection and Digital Reform Bill gets passed in Parliament. As mentioned before, DI in employment has created the best use case and additional information that could be added to the DI may include HMRC payroll records, for example, where a candidate worked, how long they worked there and how much they earned. Taken a few steps further, information on qualifications, payroll data and more, this could potentially exclude the use of CVs altogether. But this poses certain privacy infringement issues because candidates legally don’t have the disclose salary figures to potential employees.

“The process around DI is all consent-led and will always be so,” said Keith. “Right now, if you go on the HMRC gateway and look somebody up with their consent you can access all that information already. But it’s imperative we hard-wire consent into the process.” This, however, can lead to some ethical hiring concerns. What would happen if a candidate doesn’t give consent to these checks, but another candidate in the running for the same role does? Would the recruiter choose the candidate who gives consent simply to speed up the hiring process? Another ethical concern is that the DI could potentially turbocharge the recruitment by Artificial Intelligence debate. “Imagine we eventually just end up with a few robots that takes care of all hiring? Candidate X applies for a job and gives consent; the robot carries out the checks and decides whether Candidate X is more suitable than Candidate Y, and chooses the candidate who gave consent. It does sound a bit space age, but I don’t think it is,” commented Keith. “We need to start thinking about hardwiring in the right to have a human make the final decision on candidate suitability for a role”, he added.

DE&I doubts

This leads to significant concern about the potential for discrimination and not only about who does or doesn’t give consent. Qualifying documents to use for DI are reserved for those who hold work visas and in-date British and Irish passports. “This clearly creates a second-class job seeker because all of a sudden, whilst it’s illegal to discriminate, if two job seekers present themselves for a role and only one can go through the digital system when the company wants someone to start next week; it’s likely the recruiter or employer will choose the candidate who can go through a RTW check in three minutes and is ready to start the next day, and not the candidate who can only make a three-hour commute to ID verification in three weeks’ time,” said Keith. Jo Major, Founder at Diversity in Recruitment said, “Adopters must consider accessibility in design. Systems must be made available for everyone, and physical, cognitive, and technological limitations must be carefully considered. As with all technology, there must be an alternative as we cannot find ourselves in a ‘computer says no situation.’” But who are the DIs currently excluding? Companies can still shortlist and interview candidates before conducti ng identity checks if they choose to do so. However, adopting immediate identity checks makes blind recruitment difficult unless the company has robust practices in place. Interestingly, the current digital system disproportionately affects white British individuals who lack an in-date passport, while newer generations and immigrants often possess right-to-work clearance, leading to unintended harm to certain groups. Social exclusion and the issue of diversity primarily affect economically disadvantaged individuals, including poor white individuals and various ethnic groups.

Data privacy concerns

There have been interesting questions raised regarding intergovernmental data sharing, including employment history, pay, and qualifications. It’s also highlighted the importance of interoperability between governments, where the digital identity from one country can be used in another. Keith questioned the need for individuals to repeat the digital identity verification process when applying for jobs with different companies. There are challenges in achieving commercial viability and addressing concerns of the identity service providers who may see reduced profits but the issues of reusability and interoperability across governments, along with sharing additional government data, pose significant questions that need to be answered. Keith suggested that consent should be built into the system to address these concerns and ensure individuals, like temporary and contract workers have control over their identities. Limiting the distribution of personal data is crucial, as civil liberties groups raise concerns about maintaining control over identity information. Furthermore, there are challenges for employers, as the traditional method of storing physical documents no longer applies. With a candidate’s digital identity stored in a recruitment fi rm or employer’s data system, regulations must be established to ensure proper usage, preventing unauthorised resale or forwarding of the information. Privacy concerns arise as the organisation in question could potentially hold a significant number of digital identities on its platform. One would think that digital verification could parti ally address identity theft, assuming no major hacking incidents occur. A positive trend is being seen where technology successfully detects fraudulent documents. However, the crucial concern lies in what happens next. Anecdotal evidence suggests that individuals whose fake documents are identified by digital systems, may resort to alternative methods. They approach companies directly or send physical documents to bypass the digital route, knowing that the system would expose their falsified identity. This shift in tacti cs transfers the problem to individuals who are aware of their fake documents and intentionally exploit face-to-face or postal channels to secure employment. While the current system flags more fakes, it does not effectively eradicate the issue of identity theft.

The process around DI is all consent-led and will always be so, Keith Rosser, Reed Screening Group Risk Director

Julieanne Fouad, Director of Sales at IMS People Possible believes, however, that the digital ID could address the issue of fraudulent documents. “Using digital identity technologies, employers can now rely on certified providers to conduct thorough pre-employment checks, including criminal record verifications. This will significantly reduce the risk of hiring individuals based on falsified credentials. Suppliers with accredited services can also do Digital Disclosure and Barring Service identification checks, right-to-work, and right-to-rent checks for British and Irish passport holders.”

What’s the verdict? 

The Digital ID, as it is today, is simply a Right to Work check but with much greater potential to house an online CV of sorts. While there are clearly many creases left to iron out, the positive affects it could have on recruitment process in the UK are undeniable. Digital identification confirms the hard facts, but the CV and in-person interactions with candidates during the hiring process will continue to enable TA teams to build a rapport with candidates and identify the soft s skills that will determine whether they’d fi t into the culture of the business etc. Darren Topping, Director of Solutions and Insights at Lorien Global believes that despite the death knell tolling loudly over the years, the CV still is alive and well.

“Rightly or wrongly, and regardless of the arguments against the CV, most organisations, and in particular the people that keep it alive – hiring managers – rely on this detailed profile of a person to truly bring to life their achievements, job roles and capabilities.” In specific industries, where mass hiring is taking place, such as the NHS, the pros of DI are undeniable. Julieann said that the introduction of digital identification could revolutionise the hiring process, particularly in a skills-strapped sector, like the NHS. By providing a secure and verifiable online link to an individual’s qualifications, it can expedite the screening and selection of candidates, saving valuable time and resources. Jo Major said that just because we are in a race for recruitment to become faster, slicker, and more immediate in everything, we are inevitably and without realising, excluding some groups. “Recruitment technology can and does limit our opportunities to reach everyone, it can cause missed perspectives in assessment, amplify bias and preference, and can we fail to spot much-needed adjustments and accommodations. As with any form of technology that learns from predetermined rules, machine learning and algorithms, we must check, recheck and continue to recheck for bias that makes life easier for one group but creates barriers for others.” Taking into consideration the speed at which technology is evolving – one only has to think of ChatGPT – a Digital ID housing a full scale, all-encompassing CV could very well be just around the corner but where we are now and what it is currently used for, it’s easy to see that it’s not the death of the CV, but simply its evolution.

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